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India’s Sharma confident of PGA Tour success but ready to wait

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India's Sharma confident of PGA Tour success but ready to wait

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Top Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma believes he has the game to be a multiple winner on the PGA Tour and it is just a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’, the 22-year-old told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO – Golf – The 147th Open Championship – Carnoustie, Britain – July 21, 2018 India’s Shubhankar Sharma in action during the third round REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

Nine years after Arjun Atwal became the first Indian winner on the PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship, Sharma finds himself under a burden of similar expectations following a fairytale 2018.

The Chandigarh golfer won the Maybank Championship in January last year, a month after his Joburg Open triumph, and turned heads in his very first PGA Tour event, holding the second and third round leads at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The title eventually eluded him after a final round 74, but Sharma cherishes the experience and is convinced that his success in golf’s elite league is just a matter of time.

“PGA Tour is the best tour in the world and it’s a no-brainer,” said the winner of the 2018 Asian Tour order of merit title. “It has been a fabulous experience with them till now… I will love to play there as and when I get there.

“As for winning, yes, I definitely have the game and will win there many times. I do not want to force the issue. Let it come. It’s just a matter of time. It can happen even the next week. So let’s see.”

Sharma had a busy 2018 when he crisscrossed the world to tee up in 33 events, including all four World Golf Championships and the majors.

He plans to keep the number down to 30 at the most this year with his focus on Europe.

“Last year has been a whirlwind, a maddening world tour, so to say. I basically could not refuse any of the events I played,” Sharma said. “I was spread out on three tours and I had some goals to be achieved.

“This year things are much more settled. I am concentrating mainly on the European Tour with a few big events thrown in. I will place myself so that I can give my best on the field.”

While he is ready to wait for most other glories, Sharma reveals the one goal he is chasing this year.

“All targets are achievable and they will come in their own terms. So I do not want to tag a timeline with those. Yes, if one thing that I want to do in 2019 it’s Presidents Cup. Because 2019 Presidents Cup will happen only in 2019.”

Right now, he cannot wait to return to Mexico with plenty of fond memories and an unfinished business on hand.

“Mexico will always stay with me for a long, long time, even if I win this year. It was my first WGC as well as PGA event and I led that for two days. Fairytale,” he said.

“Going back this year, I am focused on doing well. I had a few issues to sort out, which has been my baggage from the last year. Because schedule was so tight I had practically no time to address some of the nagging issues in my equipment.

“This year, I have sorted out quite a few of them. So I am feeling ready to go and take off from where I left last year. There is a job to be done.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

After a difficult season culminated by a crucial missed field goal on a potential game-winning field goal in the NFC playoffs, kicker Cody Parkey will be released by the Chicago Bears when the new league year begins in March.

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) watches his field goal during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports on Friday, the team intends to cut ties with Parkey once the NFL free agency period begins on March 13.

Parkey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, endured an inconsistent season in Chicago after inking a four-year, $15 million contract last winter following the team’s release of Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Parkey, a five-year veteran, not only missed a career-high seven field-goal attempts and three extra points during the regular season, but his 43-yard attempt in the final seconds of the NFC wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles first hit the upright then the crossbar before bouncing back on the field.

Despite the NFL later ruling that the kick was partially blocked, Parkey took much of the public blame for the Bears’ season ending.

Parkey began his career with the Eagles in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, scoring a franchise-record 150 points while making 32 of 36 field-goal tries. In two seasons with the Eagles, Parkey never missed an extra point.

Parkey later kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and Miami Dolphins in 2017.

In January, the Bears signed Tulsa product Redford Jones after conducting a workout that reportedly included multiple hopefuls. Jones made 50 of his 67 field-goal attempts at Tulsa from 2015-17, and he does have a kick on his resume where he hit both uprights. Unlike Parkey’s double-doink, though, that 2016 attempt against Cincinnati ended up going over the crossbar for three points.

“We need more production out of that position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month after signing Jones. “We know we need to get better there, and it will be an area of focus.”

—Field Level Media

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

Belinda Bencic secured a spot in the final by stunning two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 22, 2019 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during the Semi Final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Bencic trailed 5-3 in the final set before recovering to defeat the sixth-seeded Svitolina. She will face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the championship match after the Czech Republic star defeated Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I think I’m always the most proud of how I fight,” Bencic said after posting the victory. “Even when I lose, I learned myself to just look in the mirror and be proud of myself when I’m fighting, when I’m giving my all, when I’m trying to do what I have to do.”

Bencic won eight consecutive points after Svitolina was in position to close out the match. Then the Switzerland native carried the momentum into the tiebreaker to notch one of the biggest victories of her career by outdueling the Ukrainian.

“Basically, I stayed in the zone, even in (the) tiebreak,” Bencic said. “I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Bencic will be seeking her third career title when she squares off with Kvitova, who will be shooting for her 27th.

Kvitova dropped the first set on Friday before recovering to win the last two.

“It was a tough one today, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn’t play great at the end of the first.

“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set. I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don’t know. It was something weird.”

Kvitova overcame eight double faults to claim the victory.

Hungarian Ladies Open

Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Budapest.

Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, will face fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis. The Russian dispatched third-seeded Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will face Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other semi. Vondrousova outlasted Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 while the 17-year-old Potapova fought past Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 2 hours, 50 minutes.

—Field Level Media

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlor, police in Florida said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft was one of 25 people involved in the alleged solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach County, told ESPN that the nature of any charges that the 25 people face will not be released until next week.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

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